CBD for pets has become a popular topic of discussion in the holistic health world.
The list of benefits of this CBD for our furry friends continues to grow. Countless testimonials and heartfelt stories have made their way into curious pet owner’s homes.
As this all-natural medicine becomes more widely accepted, important questions will naturally come up.
Curious owners have wondered, “Is a small amount of THC okay for pups?” Everyone knows by now how effective CBD can be for pets; but, what about the most common cannabinoid: THC?
There are numerous CBD products in the market. Among them, many brands will sell full plant spectrum CBD hemp oil that contain a small amount of THC (no more than 0.03%) in their products. So, does that mean that the product is safe to be administered to pets?
The answer is yes. A small amount of THC, like the amount found in a full-plant extract CBD hemp oil, can still be safe for your pet.
If you are interested in learning more about using CBD for pets and proper dosing, continue reading.
Table of Contents
The History of Cannabis
Cannabis, marijuana, pot, weed, herb, ganja or other names used to refer to cannabis have gained quite a reputation over the past few decades. But, this plant is not fresh news. Since the old time, populations used to grow Cannabis for their medicinal properties and religious meaning. This plant was not only used for its healing powers but also for recreational reasons.
Early colonies used cannabis for its fibers and other physical attributes. Now, cannabis is used both recreationally and medicinally.
While it may have stepped into the spotlight over the course of the past few decades, cannabis has been a part of human history for over 10,000 years1.
After almost 100 years of prohibition, cannabis has been re-introduced either recreationally or medicinally in over half of the United States.
Pioneers of the cannabis movement urge for decades of misinformation to be replaced with the scientific evidence. Cannabis can be beneficial, and certainly less harmful than the years of propaganda previously suggested when part of the plant was used as a psychotic herb.
These efforts have led to the state-level legalization of marijuana. Now, scientists and doctors can study the effects of cannabis on various mammal systems2.
Scientists have found that cannabis, in its various processed forms can be used medically to treat nausea, inflammation, muscle control problems, epileptic seizures, mental illness, addiction, cancer, and help with general pain disorders3.
The scientific evidence and testimonials are so overwhelming that even the National Institute on Drug Abuse recognizes cannabis as a medicine for these conditions. Due to the previous prohibition of the plant, cannabis has yet to gain the FDA’s stamp of approval.
The long and strenuous process of approving a medication has prevented cannabis from becoming officially approved.
However, many believe that this will happen soon as more studies are running and uncovering the medical uses of cannabis. The public's interest is certainly growing, and consumers are becoming more aware of its benefits4.
Even those who do not necessarily have health conditions are curious about the benefits of cannabis for their loved ones who do.
Much like their human counterparts, dogs can suffer from a variety of conditions, such as anxiety, irritable bowel syndrome, seizures, muscle spasms, skin conditions, appetite disorders, cancer, and more.
Veterinarian prescribed medicine can help, but as we’ve seen with humans, prescription medications don’t always work for everyone and can have side effects as well.
When a loved one is suffering, we do anything and everything we can to help. Many pet owners who have experienced the difficulties of caring for a dog with a condition are looking for a better solution.
Ineffective treatments and prescriptions have left owners searching for more. If dogs are mammals, can't cannabis help them too?
This question has gained popularity recently, and we are here to help you answer that.
How do we process cannabis in our bodies?
Cannabis is composed of over 100 cannabinoids. A cannabinoid is a chemical compound that attaches to the endocannabinoid system located in the brain and nervous system of all mammals.
Mammals are born with an endocannabinoid system. This system naturally regulates our appetite, mood, pain sensation, and memory. It also plays a role in processing the effects of cannabis. So, in other words, mammals bodies are born with cannabis receptors!5.
While dogs and humans are both mammals and have similar endocannabinoid systems, there is one major difference. A dog’s endocannabinoid receptors are much more concentrated than humans. So, dogs will witness the effects of cannabis at a much more intense level than humans.
This is an incredibly important factor to keep in mind when researching the effects of cannabis on our furry friends.
Looking back at the cannabinoids, there are more than 100 chemical compounds found mainly in the flowers of the female plant. They can also be found at lower concentrations in the stems and leaves of both the male and female plants. These play a role in how we feel when we consume cannabis.
Two of the most common cannabinoids are THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (cannabidiol)6.
THC has gained its popularity by producing the mind-altering state, also known as being “stoned” or “high”, that most people associate cannabis with. However, THC can also help with nausea, sleep apnea, appetite loss, and more.
CBD has recently gained popularity for producing most of the medicinal benefits cannabis has to offer, without altering your state of mind.
Both cannabinoids can be extracted on their own, free from the mind-altering ingredient that the plant has been known for.
Cannabis flower is the most common form of cannabis. It is also known as weed or herb. The flower can be bred to contain high amounts of THC or CBD, and still contains the other 100+ of the naturally occurring cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant.
You may be wondering, “If CBD contains the medicinal properties, can’t you just extract pure CBD and leave all the other cannabinoids behind?”. After many laboratory trials, scientists made an interesting discovery. When a single cannabinoid is extracted on its own, away from the remaining cannabinoids, it becomes much less effective7.
After experimentation, researchers found that by leaving a trace amount of the other cannabinoids, the desired compound (in this example, we’ll use CBD) becomes much more effective and beneficial to the patient. This discovery came to be known as the “entourage effect.”
The “entourage” of cannabinoids work together to provide the best relief possible to patients. They can even work together to counteract the undesired effects of one another.
For example, a patient looking to receive the anti-nausea benefits from THC, without the mind-altering properties, can look for a strain that is high in CBD but still contains a small amount of THC.
The CBD counteracts the “high” of the THC, leaving the patient nausea-free and clear-headed.
While THC and CBD are two powerhouse cannabinoids, the remaining 100+ compounds have their benefits as well. By keeping a trace amount of all cannabinoids, the patient experiences a well-rounded, balanced approach to cannabis.
Medicine that contains all cannabinoids is called whole plant medicine.
Whole plant medicine can still contain a higher concentration of CBD, but keeps a small amount of the remaining cannabinoids to create the beneficial entourage effect.
Can dogs consume CBD oil?
Because dogs are mammals and have the same cannabinoid receptors as humans (just more concentrated), they can benefit from the use of cannabis.
However, because of these concentrated receptors, special precautions must be made.
First, dogs cannot consume moderate to large quantities of THC. Dogs who have consumed moderate dosages of THC have experienced negative reactions.
An amount that we may consider low is in fact very high for dogs, as their receptors are much more concentrated.
Dogs who have consumed cannabis with a high (or normal) amount of THC, either on accident (by eating the owner’s medicine/edibles) or purposely (from a bad owner) have shown symptoms of extreme drowsiness.
More commonly in high doses, high THC doses may lead to static ataxia, a condition where the pup cannot maintain equilibrium while stand. They keep falling over and can’t walk.
Occasionally, dogs that have consumed large doses of THC have thrown up. If your pup has consumed THC (in the form of an edible, tincture, or otherwise) and is showing any of the following signs, take them to the vet immediately.
Dogs who could benefit from the THC compound can use cannabis with THC, but it MUST be in very small amounts. This can be the case of dogs suffering from irritable bowel syndrome.
Usually, the small dosage of THC found in whole plant CBD products which is 0.03% or less, is enough.
CBD on the other hand rarely reacts negatively towards dogs; and, because it does not contain mind-altering properties, it can be consumed in much higher dosages without risk of static ataxia or other negative reactions.
Countless testimonials and studies have found that the CBD compound can help treat our furry friends.
By using a whole plant extract, the pups can benefit from the maximum benefits of the plant, without experiencing the negative reactions of a high THC medicine.
What is the proper dosage of CBD for pets?
When looking for a CBD supplier for pets, make sure you go with a reputable company that has multiple positive testimonials.
Also look for a whole plant extract, so your pup can receive the full benefits of the medicine.
CBD can interact with your dog’s other medications, so check with your vet if your pet is currently taking anything to make sure you don’t disrupt their medication cycle.
Providers can extract the CBD from two different sources. If you are in a legal state, CBD can be extracted from regular, female flowering marijuana plants.
For the remaining population, CBD is extracted from hemp, a cannabis plant with a THC content less than 0.3%, the legal limit for growers.
If you are looking for a CBD-specific medicine, both extraction methods should be able to provide you with a CBD dominant extract.
Veterinarian Gary Richter suggests a 20:1 CBD:THC ratio for pets who need the benefits of THC. For some conditions like cancer and pain, a combination of THC and CBD is best.
Some pets may need more THC than others; but, this needs to be determined under the guidance of a veterinarian experienced with cannabis and pets.
For other conditions like anxiety or inflammation, mostly CBD, with small amounts of THC, may be enough to treat the symptoms.
Dogs and animals are just like humans: some do well with just CBD alone while others do better with a combination of CBD and THC. More experimentation is necessary.
However, the most prudent option is to stick with CBD dominant products with possibly a small amount of THC in them like what's found in a full spectrum CBD hemp oil.
Each dog is different because CBD doses depend on the weight of the dog.
The company you buy from should provide the proper dosage guidelines. You can follow the table below as a guide, but make sure to ask your provider, as the concentrations of medicine vary from one company to another.
If you are unsure, ask your supplier. Always start low and go slow. You can always increase the dosage, but once your pet has consumed the medicine, there is no going back, so play it safe and start small.
It is important to note that the majority of pet CBD products also contain a small amount of THC. So, your pet is very unlikely to experience any negative reactions unless they consume an entire bottle or bag of treats.
If you are trying a medicine with a higher dosage of THC, it is important to start at the lowest recommended dose. The higher the THC concentration, the more chances you have for a negative reaction.
Some CBD products have zero THC. These are still good quality products with many benefits but they had the THC removed for convenience. These products will have CBD, other cannabinoids like CBG and CBC and compounds like terpenes. They do not have any THC.
In addition to the benefits CBD can provide to dogs, cannabis can help cats too.
What does the vet say about CBD for pets?
A previously mentioned, due to the legal status of cannabis, research has been limited. While there is plenty of evidence in testimonials and new studies, veterinarians are hesitant to suggest the use of cannabis for pets until it is officially recognized and confirmed as beneficial to dogs.
The Veterinarian Medical Association has recognized the benefits, but like many vets, are hesitant to completely confirm their beliefs until more research has emerged8.
While many veterinarians still haven't acknowledged the benefits of cannabis due to legal reasons, a few have spoken up in hopes of providing the relief pet owners desperately need.
The Hawthorne Veterinary Clinic states, “In our clinic, we have seen beneficial therapeutic results in our patients using CBD products derived from industrial hemp, particularly in pets with arthritic pain and anxiety issues9. Other conditions that could benefit from cannabis include seizures, inflammation, dermatitis, cancer and behavioral problems.
The American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association conducted a study and found 61.8% to 95% of the participants rated the health benefits of CBD containing treats for their pets as moderate to excellent10.
Many veterinarians acknowledge the benefits, it’s just a matter of time until they can legally endorse the medicine.
Cannabis is a powerful tool for both humans and mammals.
As more research emerges, the benefits and accessibility of cannabis will grow. If you are considering a cannabis-based medication for your pup, stick with a high-CBD solution.
While a small amount of THC is acceptable for most dogs, take extra precautions and administer a very small dosage, as THC in larger amounts can have negative effects.
For more information on giving your dog CBD, click here.
Regardless of what state you are in, if your dog has consumed THC and is showing any of the negative reactions listed above, call your veterinarian immediately.
This post was sponsored by King Kanine, maker of all natural cannabidiol products for animals.
1The 10,000-year world history of hemp and cannabis. (n.d.). Retrieved February 02, 2021, from http://www.advancedholistichealth.org/history.html
2Commissioner, O. (n.d.). FDA regulation of cannabis and Cannabis-Derived Products: Q&A. Retrieved February 02, 2021, from https://www.fda.gov/news-events/public-health-focus/fda-regulation-cannabis-and-cannabis-derived-products-including-cannabidiol-cbd
3NIDA. 2020, October 21. Is marijuana safe and effective as medicine?. Retrieved from https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/marijuana/marijuana-safe-effective-medicine on 2021, February 2
4Commissioner, O. (n.d.). FDA and Cannabis: Research and drug approval process. Retrieved February 02, 2021, from https://www.fda.gov/news-events/public-health-focus/fda-and-cannabis-research-and-drug-approval-process
5Cannabis (marijuana) and cannabinoids: What you need to know. (n.d.). Retrieved February 02, 2021, from https://www.nccih.nih.gov/health/cannabis-marijuana-and-cannabinoids-what-you-need-to-know
6Rein, Joshua L. The nephrologist's guide to cannabis and cannabinoids, Current Opinion in Nephrology and Hypertension: March 2020 – Volume 29 – Issue 2 – p 248-257 doi: 10.1097/MNH.0000000000000590
7Brent A. Bauer, M. (2020, December 18). What are the benefits of CBD — and is it safe to use? Retrieved February 02, 2021, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/consumer-health/expert-answers/is-cbd-safe-and-effective/faq-20446700
8Nolen, R. S. (2013, May 13). Veterinary marijuana? Retrieved February 02, 2021, from https://www.avma.org/javma-news/2013-06-15/veterinary-marijuana
9Medical Cannabis and Pets. (n.d.). Retrieved February 02, 2021, from http://hawthornevet.com/medical-cannabis-and-pets-faq/
10Kogan, L. R., PhD. (n.d.). CONSUMERS’ PERCEPTIONS OF HEMP PRODUCTS FOR ANIMALS (Rep.). Retrieved February 2, 2021, from AHVMA Journal website: https://www.ahvma.org/wp-content/uploads/AHVMA-2016-V42-Hemp-Article.pdf